The Proven Neurological Power of a Compliment in Sales


Gross. That feeling when a salesperson gives you an insincere compliment in a faulty attempt to build rapport.

But based on research from Dr. Norihiro Sadato of the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Okazaki, Japan, it is a wise idea to make compliments a regular part of your sales strategy.

However, not all compliments are created equal.

What They Aren’t Telling You About Compliments, Sales and the Brain

how to use a compliment in sales, sell more with compliments, neuroselling, neuromarketing, the neuroscience of compliments, compliments are the same as cash, compliments are the same as cash rewards, Alicia meneses maples, brilliant smb,Have you seen the articles that say, “Compliments are Better Than Cash!”

While that makes for a great headline, it is not completely true. What is true, is that according to Sadata, a very specific type of compliment can powerfully trigger the reward center of the brain. Ready?  Compliments about Reputation.

“The goals of the… study were to investigate whether the acquisition of a good reputation activated reward-related brain areas, specifically the straiatum, and, if so, whether this social reward activated the same reward circuitry as monetary rewards…” 

The answer: a resounding “Yes!” Cha-ching! They discovered:

1 – Affirmation of good reputation is so powerful, that a stranger’s perception of it activated the same reward center of the brain as receiving a monetary reward. Read that again – the perception of a person’s reputation from a stranger is as powerful as receiving money.

2 – Consistent social approval from others can function as a conditioned stimulus to trigger a conditioned response.

What does this mean for sales professionals?

The Ultimate Guide to Using Compliments in Sales

As with all the strategies in this blog, they are not meant for manipulation. Be sincere, or don’t do it.

How to Use Compliments to Warm Up Your Prospects

sell more with compliments, neuroscience of a compliment, compliments feel like cash, compliments and the brain, how to use cmpliments in selling, neuroselling, neuromarketing, neuroscience of selling, neuroscience of sales, neurosicence of marketing, Alicia meneses maples, brilliant smbI can’t imagine a better way to warm up a prospect conversation than to activate the reward center of their brain. The more their brain feels like they are winning the lotto when they speak with me, the better our sales conversation will flow.

You can utilize reputation compliments to warm up your prospects via phrases like:

  • I have heard that your company has a reputation for innovation in sustainable products.
  • Many of our colleagues have admired your logistics reputation for on-demand delivery.
  • Your customers rave about your reputation in their reviews of your product
  • Your reputation for transparent business dealings is well known.


How to Use Compliments to Move Your Prospects to Action

neuroselling, neuromarketing, neuroscience of selling, neuroscience of sales, neurosicence of marketing, Alicia meneses maples, brilliant smbCreating a sense of urgency that will move your prospects from thinking about purchasing to actually making a purchase is not difficult when you utilize reputation compliments.

Consider using these phrases to move your prospects to action: 

  • You already have a solid reputation in ________. Working with us will help build your reputation in ________.
  • Purchasing ________ will strengthen your online reputation with your target market.
  • When you hire us to increase the amount of ________, this all solidify your positive reputation with your clients.



How to Use Compliments for Sales Efficacy

neuroselling, neuromarketing, neuroscience of selling, neuroscience of sales, neurosicence of marketing, Alicia meneses maples, brilliant smbBecause Sadato’s findings suggest that consistent social approval from others can lead to a conditioned response, utilize reputation compliments to reinforce the behaviors from your customers you want them to repeat.

For example:

  • Thank you for your timely payments. That is just another indication of the great reputation your company has in the marketplace.
  • Great news! Participant survey responses were the highest we’ve seen. Let’s explore add-ons for your next presentation. 
  • Your Clubhouse room received 45 shares. That indicates listeners loved it and your reputation is building. Let’s talk about a sponsored link to increase your visibility for the next room. 



Concluding Thoughts

Be intentional in how you compliment your prospects and clients. If you want to evoke the same neuro-response as winning the lottery, socially reward them with compliments that affirm their reputation. 

Let me know what you think in the comments.




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